Fennel in a sherry & green peppercorn broth

Fennel in a sherry green peppercorn sauce

Sweet fennel in a spicy, smoky, buttery broth. Garnished with toasted slivered almonds and gorgonzola. Delicious, but what is it? Whatever you want it to be! We had it over basmati rice. It would be good with couscous or orzo, or any other kind of pasta you like. If you add white beans or chickpeas it could become quite a hearty stew. If you cook until the fennel is very soft and the liquid quite reduced, you’ll have a delicious compote that would make a nice vegetable side dish. I was in the mood for something light and brothy (post thanksgiving search for clarity!). So I had mine by itself, with several large handfuls of baby arugula tossed on top and stirred in to wilt very slightly. And some toasted ciabatta bread. I think there’s something so pleasurable about combining ingredients, giving some thought to the flavors of the vegetables or beans, and choosing herbs and spices that match. And then tasting a spoonful of the broth, and finding it wonderful! Such a feeling of achievement! Such anticipation of the meal about to be eaten!

Here’s JJ Barnes singing about Sweet Sherry. I used dry for this, but we don’t need to tell him that.
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Rosemary bread

rosemary bread

I bought a huge bunch of fresh rosemary, and I dried most of it in the oven, but I wanted to do something with a small amount while it was fresh. Cold and miserable weather (snow in October!) always inspires me to make something that takes a lot of time, but not a lot of attention–bread! I decided to make a brioche-type of dough, playing on the secret sweetness of rosemary. And I added green peppercorns and a bit of lemon zest, two other flavors that seem to span the salty/sweet divide. The result is a rich, finely-crumbed bread with a very subtle flavor. Nice the first day with soup, and very good toasted with salted butter the next day. It would probably make a good grilled cheese sandwich with some mild and salty cheese, but there’s none left to try it out on!

Here’s some wise advice from Justin Hinds…Save a Bread to listen to while you wait for your dough to rise.

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Malcolm’s supreme spicy croquettes

My Malcolm is a temperamental boy, and I’m not always the most patient mother. When we try to work together on a school project, it doesn’t always end well. But when we cook together, we make quite a team. Over the summer, Malcolm invented a sauce with roasted red peppers, roasted beets and roasted tomatoes. He smelled every spice in the cabinet, choosing the perfect mix for his sauce. It turned out delicious! Smoky, spicy, slightly sweet. He named it “Malcolm’s supreme spicy sauce.” This weekend, he had the idea of turning the sauce into cookies. I suggested we make croquettes, using his signature spice mix, and we added some pureed moong dal. The result was something between a croquette and a cookie, like nothing I’ve ever tasted. But it was a wonderfully tasty dinner! We dipped it in a tart-sweet tamarind sauce, and ate it alongside cauliflower puree and spinach sauteed with garlic and mixed with goat cheese, tomatoes and pesto. And a salad of course! Malcolm ate 4 croquettes, and Isaac tried it, and ran crying from the table, saying, “I tried it and I liked it, but I want something I knew I liked, like pasta or rice!” Ah, yoots.

Spinach, pesto, & goat cheese

Here’s one of Malcolm’s favorite songs, K’naan’s Bang Bang, which gets extra points for using the phrase

Hotter than a pepper-crusted Samosa.

I want a pepper-crusted samosa!!

Recipe coming up…
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